I'd like to know the difference between convenience food, ready-made food and ready food. I'm not sure, but I thought they are all interchangeable. I can warm them up in the microwave and eat instantly. Is there any difference between these three? And some people say "ready food" and some say "ready-made food". Are they refering to the same thing?

  • This seems like more of a food question than a language one. The difference between "convenience", "ready-made" and "ready" should be answered using a dictionary. Or add such research to your question. It may be better to ask this on Seasoned Advice SE.
    – user3169
    Aug 23, 2016 at 1:26
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    Is there a particular place where you encounter these terms together? I don't think any of these expressions are that common in the U.S., except perhaps among food activists; I might refer to it as ready-to-eat food, but more likely microwave dinner (or frozen dinner if applicable; my parents might say TV dinner).
    – choster
    Aug 23, 2016 at 1:30
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    @tennisgirl - In the U.S., none of these expressions are current. In BrE and the Commonwealth, yes, they all mean the same thing. Aug 23, 2016 at 1:32
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    @tennis girl, Aren't convenience food commonly bought from a "コンビニ"? Just another point to ponder on, not trying to answer the question. IMO, all of them are just the same, it's just preference (and likely a marketing strategy as well), because it would be easier to think of "コンビニ" when people say "convenience food".
    – shin
    Aug 23, 2016 at 4:14
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    RE: I came across these in English textbooks or videos on YouTube and I Googled the images of each phrase, but all looked very similar. I just wanted to know how to call this kind of food, which is already cooked and placed on a plastic plate. I think you'd start getting more upvotes if you included details like this in your question when you asked, as opposed to in your comments after people asked for motives and clarifications. Many questions are puzzling when asked out-of-the-blue; with extra information, it's a lot easier to understand the scope and provide a good answer.
    – J.R.
    Aug 23, 2016 at 9:34

2 Answers 2


In the UK we would say Ready Meal not Ready Food. The dictionaries I have consulted include Ready Meal and not Ready Food.

Supermarkets will have a section labelled Ready Meals. These are complete meals (meat, sauce vegetables, starches) in one package, already cooked, and now displayed in chilled cabinets, not frozen. The consumer will take them home and reheat in oven or Microwave.

Convenience Foods are foods that are not necessarily already cooked but which can be prepared very quickly. For example canned foods, frozen vegetables or packets of soup noodles. As a generic term it can cover complete frozen meals, but also includes other quickly-prepared foods that do not in themselves constitute a complete meal, but often can be combined together to make something very quickly. Many UK households will have quite a few such convenience foods to hand.

Takeaway Meals are bought hot, perhaps delivered to the door, and consumed immediately.

Fast Food is bought on the premises of the vendor, and usually consumed there. It's fast in that it's not usually cooked to order. Examples: chains such as KFC, McDonalds, Subway. It is interesting that we don't say Fast Meals even though a complete meal is being provided; I have no explanation for why this is so.

  • I googled "ready meal" and have a better understanding of that now. I also understand what convenience foods refer to. Thank you very much. Aug 23, 2016 at 15:20

In general usage

ready-made foods
ready foods
convenience foods

basically have the same meaning, and describe categories of food-types that have been preprepared and are ready for consumption or usage.

ready-made pie filling

enter image description here

ready foods


"Ready foods" is also the name of a US food processing company here


And also the name of a UK food processing company here


The term

convenience foods

is a broad category of foods which include ready and ready-made foods.

All three terms carry an implied meaning that the processed food is usually not prepared by the person consuming it.

These should not be confused with "meal, ready-to-eat" (MRE) which is a military term for rations.

  • Thank you so much. You've solved all the questions I had. Your explanation is very clear and helpful. Aug 23, 2016 at 8:00

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